Well, that’s torn it. With a swift inevitably, that was it. Sport is effectively cancelled.

With major city marathons getting postponed, smaller races going by the wayside, and despite other races still seemingly going ahead as of the weekend March 14-15, all foreseeable serious athletics training is now firmly off following the coronavirus outbreak. This comes as England Athletics decreed:

As disappointing as that is, in the current climate its the right decision. Health matters more than a track session, a group run or a club race. And so our enforced quarantine from all club organised running has begun.

And the coronavirus has led to pretty much the entire shutdown of the sporting calendar, not just the entire spring marathon season, every parkrun or fell race. One by one the major marathons fell – Paris, Boston, London, Manchester, and eventually, Liverpool. Yep, it took them long enough, but very recently, after seemingly digging their heels in, the organisers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon have postponed the event back to the weekend of October 24-25, 2020, assuming this pandemic has, ahem, run its course by then. And that was all before the entire country was put into lockdown.

I had concerns after learning more about the immune system in relation to exercise. Moderate exercise is seen as good for the immune system, whereas extreme levels of exercise can be detrimental. Marathon training, I would argue, definitely falls into the latter. And to that end, I felt immense pressure over what to do about my training, until the postponement of the Liverpool Marathon. I don’t want to stop running, but I don’t want to run 16, 18, 20 miles as I often would do if the virus hadn’t spread. I have family members considered to be in ‘at risk’ categories – I won’t divulge what with – and I worried that if I travelled out there under the current conditions, I might catch the virus, bring it back and cause significant difficulties for myself or others. I don’t want that stress or that responsibility. Thankfully the decision has been taken for me, and the organisers, in line with the other major marathons, have guaranteed places for the rescheduled date or a free deferral to 2021 if deferring before April 29. I intend to run the rescheduled date but I will need to see where I am trying to overcome my own little injury problems to assess whether I need to reconsider my year as a whole.

The pandemic has completely flipped my training upside down. One of my daughters was sent home from school with a dry cough and so as of last Friday, I’m on 14 day self isolation with the rest of my immediate family. The dry cough had gone by early evening. None of the rest of us are symptomatic, but for the vulnerable among us, going out isn’t an option at all. And yet, you see these selfish idiots crowding supermarkets, stripping the shelves of essential items, flooding into pubs, clubs, beaches and parks, all in opposition to the ‘advice’ given by the government and by public health officials, when the sensible majority among us are seeking to respect social distancing.

What I do about my training here is currently in a state of flux. I haven’t been for a run in 10 days. In the meantime, I’ve been doing the daily ‘P.E with Joe’ (that’s Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach), which are aimed at kids but do offer a reasonably energetic 30 minutes per session, been thrown into home schooling my kids, getting creative with them and playing board games, while enjoying the occasional laze in the early spring sunshine. Oh, and trying to sort stuff out in my house, the menial chores, etc. etc.

With nothing immediately now to train for, and opportunities likely to be limited as far as training outside is concerned, I have to consider what my immediate options are. I can look to maintain a reasonable level of mileage so long as I keep out of the way of folk – let’s hope they haven’t taken over the local canal or river towpaths. I’ve suddenly got an interest in virtual runs, where you sign up for an event, do the distance in your own time within the rules set by the organiser, submit proof and off and voila, a medal for your efforts. There’s motivation to be found somewhere. Though I’d be daft not to at least get back to a bit of strength training and to work on erasing some of the injury niggles that I had accumulated in the eight weeks of training prior to the crisis escalating in the UK.

But to all this pales in comparison to everyone’s health and wellbeing at this time. One can hope that normality will one day resume, people can live their daily lives as necessary and Leeds United can finish the job of getting promoted to the Premier League! But in all seriousness, it’s important to do whatever we can to mitigate the spread of this virus.

In the meantime, follow the advice given by the authorities. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said to the hilt, but regardless, unless you’re a key worker as set out by the UK government, stay at home, particularly if vulnerable or in an at risk category. Keep your distance if you must go out – at least two meters. Social distancing peeps! And only travel to and from work if you have to, and if absolutely necessary. Work from home if your employer has such arrangements – or hasn’t furloughed you.

Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds a time. Check in on your loved ones, whether that be by phone, video call, messaging – technology is truly coming to its fore right now. If you have a loved one who needs help, or know anyone who does, reach out to them and ensure they’re OK, see what you can do for them.

Don’t take more than you need from the shops.

Don’t congregate in large groups in flagrant disobedience of government advice/mandate. This isn’t a bloody holiday!

And keep yourself fit! Eat healthily, exercise indoors AND outdoors (on your own, for no more than an hour!).

Follow those steps, reconnect with your families and stay positive. The situation may get worse before it improves. And we may come out of this with a very different view of the world we live in. But we can come through all of this for the better.

(Header image by Mick de Paola via Unsplash.com)